All posts by IRIS Lab

Why Should You Avoid Using DIY Mold Testing Kits?

Many people might think that is a lot cheaper and efficient to engage in DIY mold tests. However, it is strongly advised not to do this. Many DIY mold testing kits are inaccurate and unreliable. These products are not credible enough to be accepted by legal experts, insurance companies and even doctors. It has been shown that some unopened testing kits were already moldy the moment they were bought. They are also easily contaminable and a waste of your money. You would most definitely be better off by hiring professional mold inspectors who know exactly what they are doing. Here at Iris Environmental Laboratories, we have years of expertise in mold inspection and remediation services that are affordable and trustworthy. Below are some of the main reasons why you should always avoid using these DIY mold testing kits.

There are No Expiration Dates

From the time that the testing kits are shelved, to the moment that you purchase them, a large amount of time might have passed. They can be stored in the shop’s storage areas for extended periods of time, increasing the chances of the agar in the petri dish being contaminated by other substances. Since there are no expiry dates on these products, it is not possible for the results to be credible because we cannot confirm how they were handled or what kind of compounds they could have been exposed to before purchase.

They Lack a Control Sample

For professional laboratory tests for mold, there is always a control sample so that the test sample can be compared against it. A control sample can act as a useful reference point and make the test results more reliable. However, most DIY mold testing kits do not have such control samples and this makes them less accurate.

There is No Inspection

DIY mold testing kits are usually inflexible and one-dimensional. This means that they cannot provide us with a proper understanding about the mold infestation. Mold testing that is comprehensive should include inspection that can only be done with specialized equipment. This includes tools such as digital moisture meters and even infrared cameras that allow for visual observation of spores that otherwise cannot be seen by the naked eye.

Inaccurate When Brought to the Lab

Ultimately, DIY mold testing kits have been shown to be extremely inaccurate. After using the DIY test kits, even when the results show that there is a high mold spore count, the actual results speak otherwise when brought to the laboratory. On the other hand, when the mold spore count is low in actuality, the actual results showed that it was high. There should therefore be no reason why you should ever want to use DIY mold testing kits.

False Advertising

Many people fall for the marketing gimmicks of such mold testing kits because of the language used. Many of these kits ensure customers that they can be used to quantify the mold that is in their home. In actual fact, after conducting such tests with the kits, the samples have to be sent to the lab for further tests. This would make the purchase meaningless if the test kit cannot even tell you what kind of mold you are dealing with.

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When Are Asbestos-Containing Materials Dangerous?

Asbestos refers to a group of 6 natural and fibrous materials that are made out of extremely thin fibers. It is a material that can be very useful for strengthening other materials and for fire-proofing. However, due to the adverse effects it can have on our health, asbestos is banned in many countries. It is important to note that it is not currently banned in the United States, thus, we have to be aware and alert about asbestos exposure. Here at Iris Environmental Laboratories, we provide the most professional asbestos inspection services in the country for extremely affordable prices.

When are They Dangerous?

Essentially, the most common way for us to be harmed by asbestos fibers when it enters our body through our respiratory tract. Note that asbestos is generally non-harmful to our bodies unless it releases dust or needle-like fibers into the air, where it can then be transferred into our bodies. These fibers can easily lodge in our throats and noses. When this happens, we have to be sure to remove the fibers before it travels into our lungs. It is extremely dangerous when these fibers are trapped in our body.

Asbestos-carrying materials are most dangerous when they are “friable”. This means that it can be broken down easily and spread through the air. For example, spray-on asbestos insulation is much more dangerous than asbestos-containing plastic containers. What determines the friability of these materials is how much it has been damaged or deteriorated. This can be caused by water damage or even physical impacts.

Effects that Asbestos has on Our Health

Asbestos is harmful to our health and hard to eradicate once they have entered our bodies. This is because asbestos cannot be broken down by our bodies the moment they are lodged in our body tissues. Asbestos exposure causes three main health problems:

  1. Asbestosis: This is a chronic disease that attacks our respiratory system. Ultimately, the asbestos fibers irritate the lung tissues which results in scarring. Some symptoms that sufferers of this disease might face include shortness of breath and even cardiac failure. It is worrying to know that there is no known treatment for asbestosis. It usually leads to major health impairments and fatality.
  2. Lung cancer: This the most common cause of death from asbestos exposure. Many people who were exposed to asbestos fibers from mining and milling activities and suffered from lung cancer which proved fatal in the end. The most common symptoms of lung cancer include severe coughing and difficulties in breathing. Some people also experience severe chest pains and even anemia. The risks of getting lung cancer is much higher in people who are already exposed to other carcinogens. For example, people who smoke cigarettes can face a greater risk of getting lung cancer after asbestos exposure because their lungs are already more vulnerable as a result of cigarette smoke.
  3. Mesothelioma: This is a rarer form of cancer as compared to lung cancer and usually affects the lungs, the chest and the abdomen. Out of the estimated 200 cases reported every year in the United States, nearly all the mesothelioma cases are attributed to asbestos exposure.
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    What Should You Do If Your NYC House Has Asbestos?

    What is the deal with asbestos and why are so many people afraid of it? Essentially, asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring minerals that can be harmful to our health should we ingest its dust or fibers. Studies have shown that these needle-like fibers actually can lead to various health problems. In the 1970s, it was discovered that it can be a carcinogen that is used as a material for insulation and as a flame-retardant. However, it has been proven that asbestos on its own cannot actually harm you. It only becomes harmful when it is disturbed, causing the fibers to become airborne and increasing the possibility of it entering our bodies through our respiratory tract. Here at Iris Environmental Laboratories, we specialize in asbestos inspection for your NYC house and remediation services.

    Testing for Asbestos

    As mentioned above, asbestos-containing materials are not harmful if they are not disturbed or damged. However, it would only be wise to find out if there are any such materials in your home. As such, it is advisable to conduct testing and inspection for the floors and ceilings of your NYC home before furnishing it. This would not only grant you peace of mind, but allows you to be in line with city regulations of disclosing whether asbestos is present in your house. Furthermore, it is also beneficial to test an apartment for asbestos before deciding to purchase it. It is a fact that sellers are not responsible for informing buyers whether their property contain any asbestos. Therefore, the power lies in our hands.

    Where Can You Find Asbestos in Your House?

    Generally, asbestos is used for insulation. Thus, it is common to find asbestos in heating systems. People have found asbestos on their boilers and pipes. However, asbestos can also be found in tiling around the house and even wall plaster. It can even exist in the pipes in your building’s boiler room and act as insulation for the riser pipes that are used for transporting hot water. Since it can be such a common occurrence, it is best that you conduct asbestos testing so that you focus on your next best course of action.

    How Should My Building Management Handle this?

    It is common for older buildings to mandate that their owners remove any trace of asbestos before selling their property. However, your management company should be responsible for being the middle man between you and your contractor. They should be the ones to ensure that any construction or renovation should abide by NYC codes and expedite the abatement process. If your building is conducting asbestos removal, it is required that you notify all the residents about the dates of removal and that the process is in line with the building codes of NYC. If you are renting a place to live in, your landlord is not required to tell you if there is any asbestos in the home, but they are still required to inform you of any abatement processes, pay for all the costs, and follow the protocol that is set in this city.

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    What Does The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Do?

    As we all know, there are major problems with our environment because of widespread industrialization and urbanisation. For example, the use of pesticides such as DDT had been a mainstay for farmers and crop growers in the 1960s because it protected the harvest from damage by insects. It had been used because it was extremely toxic to many insects and was economical and easy to use because of its insolubility in water. However, scientists published journals and books that criticized the use of such chemicals because of its effects on our environment. As a result, Richard Nixon put together a federal agency called the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) so that the efforts to put together regulation and law regarding our environment were united. Here at Iris Environmental Laboratories, we specialize in mold and asbestos inspection and remediation services that are the best in the country for the most competitive prices. We have laboratories in many different locations and are dedicated to providing the best for our customers. Below are some of the things that the EPA does for our country and the environment.

    Air Pollution

    Before the government even cared about regulating air pollution, many American towns and cities were plagued by smog. The smog caused severe health problems and led to the deaths of many people. In 1970, something known as the Clean Air Act authorized the EPA to regulate the air pollutants in America. The EPA then began to regulate the levels of lead in the air. At that point, close to 5000 Americans were dying annually because of lead poisoning.

    Because of the Clean Air Act, the EPA was able to reduce the levels of many toxic compounds that could be found in the air at the time. Some of these dangerous substances include mercury and arsenic. They were also able to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions which caused acid rain.

    Water Pollution

    Similarly to the Clean Air Act, there was something called the Clean Water Act that was passed in 1972. This also allowed the EPA to set some water pollution regulations. It is interesting to note that water pollution at the time was not only caused by the toxic waste from industrialization. Before the 1970s, most places in America channelled their sewage into water bodies without any treatment. The act allowed the usage of federal money to build municipal sewage treatment plants. Since then, the condition of the rivers and other water bodies in the United States has largely improved thanks to the EPA’s efforts.

    Climate Change

    The EPA is also playing its part in fighting climate change. In order to do this, they have to regulate the amount of carbon dioxide that is a by-product of burning fossil duels. Carbon dioxide is the main cause of climate change and global warming because it destroys our ozone layer, which is our planet’s protection from the sun. The EPA has set national regulations for power plants in order to reduce carbon pollution. This has greatly reduced the amount of carbon emissions coming from power plants and contributes to the climate change effort by the rest of the world.

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    What Are The Adverse Health Effects Of Mold?

    Mold refers to a type of fungus that characteristically reproduce with spores that are passed through the air. Mold is actually more common than you think. It can easily grow both indoors and outdoors, as long as the environment is damp and warm. There are many different types of mold. Some are harmless but some can pose as threats to our health. Here at Iris Environmental Laboratories, we provide the best mold remediation and inspection services in the country.

    What Kind of Mold Should You Look Out for?

    Mold that is found in your home can be an expensive and dangerous problem. However, as mentioned above, not all species of mold should be a cause for concern. Some of the more common types of indoor mold include Cladosporium, Aspergillus and Penicillium. The type of mold that you should be afraid of is Stachybotrys chartarum. More colloquially known as black mold, it is not as common as the harmless types of mold because it usually grows on surfaces that are high in cellulose. This is why you would expect to find black mold on materials such as wood and paper. This blog post will cover the various ways that toxic mold can affect our bodies, and the things to look out for to prevent further mold exposure.

    How is Mold Spread?

    Mold is essentially spread through their spores. These spores are microscopic and extremely hard to detect. They are responsible for causing health problems in many people around the world because it can be hard to dislodge the spores from our respiratory systems.

    How Dangerous is Toxic Mold?

    It is commonly believed that black mold exposure can lead to many serious health issues because of how toxic it is. It has been shown to release mycotoxins, which can be extremely harmful to us. Studies have also shown that these mycotoxins are associated to the bad health of people who have been exposed to black mold and cause mycotoxicosis.

    Mycotoxicosis is a form of mold poisoning that can result in acute poisoning and immune deficiencies or even cancer in the long term. Black mold exposure has also been shown to cause unexplained aches and body pains, unnatural changes in moods, short term memory loss, and headaches.

    Allergies

    Although toxic mold can affect anyone, people with pre-existing mold allergies might be more susceptible to mold exposure. As such, when they are in contact in mold, they might experience some symptoms like:

    • Irritation to the nose or having a blocked and runny nose
    • Watery eyes
    • Severe skin rashes
    • Throat pains
    • Difficulty in breathing
    • Wheezing

    Mold exposure can also worsen any pre-existing respiratory problems or the condition of people with lung problems. It is important that you conduct a mold inspection in your home should you experience these symptoms. Mold can affect you and your family, especially loved ones who are young and those who might have weaker immune systems. A study showed that infants and toddlers who are exposed to mold at that young age actually increase their risk of developing asthma.

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    Understanding OSHA’s Stance Of Mold Testing

    Mold is literally everywhere! No matter how hard you try in eradicating mold, it is likely that there are still small traces of mold everywhere. While we cannot completely eradicate mold from our environment, we still should try our best to remove mold from our homes or work environment. It is important for employers to understand the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s stance on mold so that the necessary steps could be taken to limit the detrimental effects that mold can have on employees. Here are the key takeaways from the OSHA’s guide to mold in the workplace.

    Mold Basics

    Mold plays an important role in nature in stimulating the decomposition of organic material. Despite the benefits that mold brings, mold can be detrimental to the health of people and should be removed for the sake of human health. They reproduce by producing spores, which can be carried along with wind or surrounding animals. They generally grow well in areas where there is high moisture, such as the toilet sinks, shower areas, water pipes, pantry areas, roofs and water containers.

    Health Effects

    While the majority of mold is harmless to humans, there are certain molds that can cause allergy reactions or cause detrimental effects with long-term exposure. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, stuffy nose and coughing. Those with weaker immune systems, allergies or asthma might experience a greater severity in their symptoms.

    There are other hazardous molds that can lead to detrimental effects with prolonged exposure. Take for example, prolonged exposure to black mold can result in stomach pain, hair loss and muscle spasm. The spores from black mold are also neurotoxins and can result in certain effects on the nervous system, such as memory loss and extreme mood swings. With these health implications in mind, it is essential that workplaces take the essential steps to prevent the growth of mold.

    Prevention and remediation

    Controlling the moisture at key areas is vital in preventing the growth of mold. Employees should act promptly if there is a water leak or spill that occurs in the workplace. Implementing a system of cleaning, drying and/or removing water-damaged materials can go a long way in preventing future mold growth.

    Businesses can employ professional mold remediation companies to ensure that the mold situation is kept under control. The remediation plan should include steps to permanently remove the source of the moisture, using personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect the worker from mold spores and removing moldy building materials in a manner that would prevent future contamination. Caution should be taken to ensure that the mold spores are not dispersed into air, which might be inhaled by the surrounding occupants. Relocating employees to another area or conducting remediation work during off hours can help in avoiding any negative health impact on occupants.

    Iris Environmental laboratories provide professional mold inspection services for businesses. Our trained and certified professional inspectors follow OSHA’s guidelines strictly to ensure that your workplace environment complies with their regulations. Call now at 1800-908-6679 to learn more about our mold inspection services or fill up our online form to be contacted by our consultants.

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    Tackling Black Mold Exposure

    There are over 10,000 species of mold, with a majority of them being harmless to human beings. However, appearance can be deceiving when it comes to black mold. Despite looking like any ordinary buildup of mold, exposure to black mold can bring about many harmful effects. The mold releases lethal mycotoxin spores which can cause numerous health conditions and even death. Here is some important information about black mold exposure and actions that you could take to eradicate black mold.

    What is Black Mold?

    Mold is a type of fungi that’s found almost everywhere. However, black mold is one such mold that can cause harm to human beings. Exposure to large amounts of black mold can cause numerous harmful effects on the body.

    Symptoms of Black Mold Poisoning

    At the beginning of exposure, black mold can cause detrimental effects on the respiratory system. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing and a stuffy nose. Those with weaker immune systems, allergies or asthma might experience a greater severity in the symptoms. They might experience headaches, fever and sinusitis.

    Long-term exposure to black mold can cause detrimental effects even for a healthy individual. Some symptoms from long-term exposure to black mold include muscle spasms, stomach pain and hair loss. As the black mold spores are neurotoxins, certain patients have experienced extreme mood swings and memory loss from being exposed to black mold for long periods.

    Treating Black Mold Poisoning

    Once a doctor has identified your condition as black mold poisoning, they might prescribe certain antihistamines and decongestants to treat the symptoms. They also offer nasal sprays to rinse the nasal canal of any black mold spores. In severe cases, the doctor may prescribe Montelukast or allergy shots for the patient. Montelukast is great at clearing mucus from the nasal canals, while the shots can help the body in building its immunity.

    Identifying Black Mold and Remediation

    If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of a black mold exposure, there is most likely black mold in your home or your workplace. It is essential to remove this mold as long-term exposure can cause a series of detrimental effects on the body. Watch out for black splotches that have a mud-like consistency along surfaces in rooms with high moisture, such as near water pipes or sinks. If symptoms are activated when you enter a room, it is likely that black mold could be found in this room.

    It is highly advised that you hire professionals to remediate your mold issue. Handling black mold can be extremely dangerous if you do not take the necessary precautions. Furthermore, you might have the essential solutions and equipment to thoroughly remove the mold.

    Find the source of the moisture and eradicate black mold from your household by contacting Iris Environmental Laboratories! We provide mold inspection services to help our clients in remediating their mold problems. Call now at 1800-908-6679 to find out more on our mold inspection services or fill up our online form to be contacted by our consultants.

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    Is Asbestos Banned In The United States?

    Asbestos refers to a group of six, needle-like minerals that are naturally occurring and known to have adverse health effects on our body. It is a useful component in materials that are used in insulation and other industrial applications. However, studies have shown that asbestos exposure can actually lead to mesothelioma, which is a type of cancer which can affect the lungs and abdomen, as well as a variety of other health problems. Despite all these known facts, asbestos is not banned in the United States. That is why it is wise to carry out asbestos inspection and mediation if you suspect that there are asbestos-containing materials in your home. We understand this and provide the best asbestos testing services in the country here at Iris Environmental Laboratories.

    Government Efforts to Reduce Asbestos Exposure

    From household products to industrial materials and applications, asbestos is something that can be very useful despite its harmful properties. Miners and factory workers in the past were unknowingly bring home the asbestos fibers on their clothing and this affected their health in a negative manner. In the 1970s, the United States’ Environment Protection Agency (EPA) passed the Clean Air Act, which banned spray-on asbestos products that were used for fireproofing and insulation. The EPA also tries to ban asbestos to stop the importation and sales of such products.

    This was going well until 1991, when lobbyists for the asbestos industry reversed the ban in a lawsuit. This led to the removal of the ban and ultimately resulting in the EPA failing to stop asbestos usage in the United States. However, despite the ban, the EPA managed to maintain a ban on products such as corrugated paper, specialty paper and flooring felt which contained dangerous asbestos fibers.

    Why did the Ban Fail?

    From the perspective of the supporters of the asbestos industry and its lobbyists, it was much easier to impose asbestos regulation as opposed to a complete ban. Although common sense would tell us that a complete ban would save countless more lives than a regulation, congress opposed the EPA on this matter and the lifted the ban.

    The EPA had claimed that a ban on asbestos would lead to the creation of economical substitutes to the product, but they could not prove to congress that this was the “least burdensome” method. In fact, the petitioners counterclaimed with their opinion that many of these asbestos-containing substitutes were as harmful and dangerous.

    The court had actually required that the EPA show the economical impacts of banning asbestos and lifting the ban. However, it was hard to quantify many aspects of the ban in terms of money. For example, the EPA could not quantify the lives that could potentially be saved after 2000.

    What You Can Do

    Other than hiring our professionals to conduct testing and inspection, you can do more to protect yourself and others from this dangerous product. You can start by simply writing to officials to urge them to push for a ban in asbestos-containing products and also to channel more funds for mesothelioma research. Now that people are starting to voice their concerns regarding asbestos exposure, there is much more progress toward a ban.

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    How Is EPA Attempting To Cut Down Asbestos Exposure?

    Exposure to Asbestos can cause a wide range of diseases and illnesses. Inhalation of small asbestos particles can cause lung diseases, cancers and cardiovascular diseases. As such, the EPA has been taking the necessary steps to protect the public from the harmful health effects that asbestos poses. Here are some of the actions that the EPA has taken under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) to prevent asbestos exposure in the United States.

    1989 Partial Ban on Asbestos-Containing Products

    The manufacture, import, processing and distribution of most asbestos-containing products are banned in the United States. These products include corrugated paper, roll-board, commercial paper, specialty paper, flooring felt and all new commercial uses that were introduced after August 25, 1989. Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), other uses of asbestos-containing products are also banned. These include its use as pipe insulation, block insulation for facility components and sprays that contain asbestos-containing materials.

    The Consumer Product Safety Act also specifies that artificial fireplace embers and wall patching that contains asbestos are also banned. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also bans all asbestos-containing products in the pharmaceutical manufacturing process and packing.

    2019 Final Rule

    In April 2019, the EPA has introduced a new measure to increase the EPA’s management of asbestos-containing products that is no longer in production. This gives the EPA the ability to put restrictions on these products in order to protect public health. Under this rule, the public is protected from asbestos-containing products that are no longer approved by the EPA or no longer in production.

    The EPA is also not allowing new uses of asbestos. Manufacturers will have to inform the EPA at least 90 days before beginning any manufacturing or distribution of asbestos-containing products. A thorough review of the product and creation of certain restrictions has to be made before manufacturing can begin. The asbestos-containing products under the 1989 partial ban will remain banned as well.

    Risk Evaluation Under TSCA

    Asbestos was the first few chemicals to undergo extensive risk reviews under the TSCA. There are still a handful of asbestos containing products that are still allowed in the U.S. They include sheet gaskets, oilfield brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes, other vehicle friction products and other gaskets. If the EPA finds that there are certain hazards from using these permitted products, the EPA will take immediate action to address the risk which could result in the eventual banning or restricting of the product. This ensures that the products that are not covered by the 1989 partial ban and the 2019 final rule can be evaluated as well.

    Looking for an asbestos inspection for your property? Look no further as Iris Environmental Laboratories provides professional asbestos inspection services. Inspectors from our company are trained and certified in finding asbestos-containing materials in your business or household. Our laboratories are also certified laboratory facilities under the Environmental Standard criteria. Call now at 1800-908-6679 to find out more on our asbestos inspection services or fill up our online form to be contacted by our consultants.

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    Are You Allowed To Sell A Florida Property That Has A Mold Problem?

    Perfectly trimmed landscape, freshly cleaned carpets and absolutely stunning exterior, it may seem as though the sale for your Florida property is certain. However, you found a buildup of mold in the air ducts as you were about to put your property on sale. For buyers, a mold issue on your property is something to be of concern. Many buyers would hire mold inspection services to ensure that the property that they are buying is mold free. If you know that the property that you are selling has a mold issue, here are some aspects you should consider.

    Disclosure of Issues

    Most states require the seller to provide full disclosure on the house before the official signing of documents. This disclosure requires the seller to provide details about any known issues with the house currently or in the past. Issues that have to be disclosed include, but are not limited to, water damage, foundational issues, lead paint presence and buildup of mold.

    Sellers must practice honesty in detailing current or past issues on the property as failure to do so can result in costly lawsuits. After receiving the disclosure, the buyer may want to hire inspection services to ensure that there are no other damages that are not mentioned. In realizing other issues with the house, the buyer might want to employ other specialist services to verify the issues found.

    The disclosure forms have to include previous issues that the house had and remediation taken to solve the issue. The owner would have to mention the details of the damages, the action taken to repair them and the documentation to prove that the issue has been fixed. This is applicable for mold problems found on the property. The seller would have to provide details of the mold issue and the remediation taken to solve the issue. Documentations containing these details are required for the disclosure.

    Remediation

    Remediating the mold issue is the safest safeguard to ensure that buyers would still want to buy the house. Despite investing into remediating the issue, the expenses used can significantly increase your chance of getting buyers and your return on investments. While remediating the problematic area may suffice, solving the root cause of the mold problem is vital to preventing the issue from arising again. Mold inspections can be useful in determining the source of moisture and cause of the mold, so that the underlying issue is resolved.

    Drop Prices

    If you are aware of mold buildup in your home, disclosing the issue, remediating the problem and asking for a lower asking price may be the best way to go about this issue. Regardless of whether remediation actions have been taken, buyers may not be willing to buy properties with a history of mold problems. By taking these actions, you can increase the chances of selling your property. Even if you do choose to not remediate the problem and request for a lower asking price, buyers may still ask for a lower price than that of the dropped price.

    If you’re looking for mold inspection services, you have come to the right place! Iris Environmental laboratories provide professional mold inspection services for property buyers and sellers. Our trained and certified professional inspectors can help you in determining the source of the moisture and perform air quality tests to identify the magnitude of the issue. Call now at 1800-908-6679 to learn more about our mold inspection services or fill up our online form to be contacted by our consultants.

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